AMANDA NUNES is still the UFC’s women’s bantamweight division after she overcome the tough challenge of Valentina Shevchenko for the second time and left the Rogers Place in Edmonton, Canada with a disputed, split decision victory at UFC 215.
The fight was promoted to the main event following the collapse of Demetrious Johnson’s potentially record breaking UFC flyweight title defence against Ray Borg, when the challenger withdrew through illness, a fate that had previously belonged to Nunes and Shevchenko, whose clash at UFC 213 in July fell apart at the 11th hour.
Nunes was judged the victor, 48-47 on two of the cards, however the third judge saw it in the favour of “The Bullet” by the same score who was left seething by the announcement, convinced that her sharp counters in the middle rounds had propelled to the top of the bantamweight tree.
However, it appeared that Nunes forward pressure and striking was enough to hand her the win, whilst two takedowns in the fifth round ensured “The Lioness” would leave with the belt remaining in her possession after a tactical affair that failed to live up to the hype of their first encounter last year.
In the chief supporting contest, former UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos continued his march towards a future title shot at welterweight, submitting Neil Magny inside the first round to earn himself Performance of the Night honours.
It was the 14th career finish of Dos Anjos’ career and ninth submission, whilst Magny has now lost two out of his last three as he was dominated by the Brazilian. A nasty leg kick put Magny down early in the fight and he had no answer for Dos Anjos’ ground game, finally tapping out to an excellent arm triangle after 3:43.
Henry Cejudo got back to winning ways in the flyweight division and stole the show with a superb stoppage win over Wilson Reis in the second round. The former flyweight title challenger had dropped his last two, albeit to champion Johnson and Joseph Benavidez, but he was back to his exciting best on Saturday to earn a Performance of the Night bonus.
The 2008 Olympic wrestling gold medalist was relentless and his striking got the job done after 0:25 of the second. Cejudo can now once again focus his intentions on winning UFC gold in a flyweight division dominated by Johnson.
Rounding out the main card was a strong win for Ilir Latifi against exciting light-heavyweight prospect Tyson Pedro, who was nullified by Latifi’s strong ground game on the way to a unanimous decision defeat, whilst Jeremy Stephens ruined Gilbert Melendez’s featherweight debut in the Fight of the Night, destroying the former Strikeforce king with some horrible leg kicks on his way to a unanimous decision win.
On the preliminary card, Ketlen Vieira upset the odds against Sara McMann, tapping the former Olympian with an arm triangle in the second round. Vieira soaked up the early pressure thrown her way by McMann, nearly forcing her to tap to a kneebar in the first, before finally securing the victory in the second, after tripping the American and sinking in the choke.
Sarah Moras also scored a victory for the underdog’s, as she submitted Ashlee Evans-Smith by a quick first round armbar. The win could see her gatecrash the women’s bantamweight rankings. Alex White also saw his hand raised, stopping Mitch Clarke with some solid strikes in the second round that left him a bloodied mess.
Rick Glenn dominated Gavin Tucker in a fight that was hard to watch and probably should never have gone the distance, with Glenn unsurprisingly taking it by unanimous decision. Heavyweight Arjan Bhullar became the first fighter of Indian descent to win a fight inside the Octagon, winning 29-28 on all three cards over Luis Henrique.
Finally, Kajan Johnson scored a knockout win over Adriano Martins in the third round of their lightweight battle to open the card.